Drums are a cornerstone element in most modern dance mixes. They provide a lot of emotion and feel to a song without any melodic background. They’re complex by nature and frequently span the whole audible frequency range. This makes them quite challenging to mix, often resulting in mixes with overwhelmingly present drums. In the next tutorial, we will show you a simple technique for treating this, by tightening up and taming the drums so they fit in better with the rest of the mix.

We have prepared a short sequence in SoundBridge: DAW. It includes most of the elements of a full mix. Let’s take a listen.

Tighten up drums session
~Full Mix – Unprocessed

Gatekeeper for tightening drums

As you can hear from the example above, we’ve achieved a decent sounding mix. However, the drum section is a little overwhelming and all over the place, especially in the high frequencies. We could try to fix this with some EQ and compression, but there is another technique that could be more appropriate. Let’s go into our “Drums Hi” group and insert a new instance of the “Gatekeeper”, by Polyverse Music. First, though, let’s hear how this group sounds solo and unprocessed.

Gatekeeper for drums
~Drums Hi Group – Unprocessed

Gatekeeper is essentially a gate effect with advanced options for volume modulation. It can work as an LFO, envelope, step sequencer, and more. We covered it in detail in one of our earlier tutorials, so this time we will not go in-depth explaining its parameters. In this case, simply browsing its preset library and selecting a preset that shortens our loose hi-hats/shakers and introduces a new groove or feel would suffice. After finding the appropriate preset, let’s hear how the “Drums Hi” group sounds.

~Drums Hi Group – Processed With Gatekeeper

As we can hear, the groove sounds quite different and might now be “too tight”. In order to find a middle ground, let’s automate the DRY/WET parameter.

Automation of Gatekeeper
~Drums Hi Group – Processed With Gatekeeper (Dry/Wet Automation)

You could add a touch of reverb after the Gatekeeper. However, in this case, our drum section sounds good as it is.

Let’s hear the full mix with our processed “Drums Hi” group.

~Full Mix – Processed With Gatekeeper